Charterhouse Cap

Object 62: A History of Charterhouse in 100 Objects

Our shiny new Charterhouse uniforms are lacking just one thing – hats! Once upon a time everyone wore hats and pupils would have been considered improperly dressed if they ventured outdoors without appropriate headgear. Victorian Carthusians wore bowler hats for going into Godalming or travelling home, but for walking around School they had caps with piping in their House or team colours. These could be ordered from Mrs Mary Anne Wright, a widow who ran a cap-making business from her home in Peperharow Road. Carthusians wore their caps with the peak at the back, long before skateboarders took this up as a fashion statement – when walking past a beak, pupils would therefore touch the back of their neck in a “Charterhouse salute”. During Cricket Quarter pupils could wear straw boaters instead of caps and Athletics finalists bought fancy velvet caps in colours of their choice so that they were easily recognised when running!

This cap belonged to Godfrey Scott Smith, who was in Pageites between OQ1892 and CQ1897. It has a maker’s stamp inside - “M A Wright Charterhouse Cap Maker”.

Mrs Wright had a life-long connection with Charterhouse. She is listed in the 1871 English Census as a cap maker living close to Charterhouse in London with her young children. We believe that her husband had been a servant at Charterhouse and she followed the School when it moved to Godalming, living nearby at 1 Hope Cottage, Peperharow Road. Career opportunities were very limited for married women, but supplying Charterhouse with caps allowed Mary Ann to work from home and support her family. The 1881 Census records that she had five children still living at home – Emily (10) and Jessie (12) were still at school, David, aged 13, had already left school and was a telegraph messenger boy, Lewis (17) was a postman and Ada (19) was a domestic servant. Mary Ann Wright died in January 1894, aged 62; her daughters, Emily and Jessie, carried on the family cap making business for a few years until moving away.

The Swallows Football Team of 1886-87 (Saunderites, Pageites and Robinites league team)
wearing their caps in the Charterhouse style.

From a New Angle: Reminiscences of Charterhouse 1880-1945 by W. Veale. (publ. P&G Wells Ltd 1957)

Charterhouse by A H Tod (publ. G Bell, 2nd ed. 1919)  - UK Census returns